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Reviewed 15 October 2013 E-mail: Administrator@LawSource.com

Using ALSO! the First Time


American Law Sources On-line (ALSO!) provides a comprehensive, uniform, and useful compilation of links to all on-line sources of American law that are available without charge.

This site contains additional links to sources of commentary and practice aids that are available without charge (or available at a reasonable charge from governmental and nonprofit providers).

The source documents are not maintained on the ALSO! server but are stored, in various file formats, in many separately maintained databases located in several countries.


Display of Pages.—The pages on this site are designed for JavaScript-enabled browsers on the Windows platform, particularly Firefox (and clones such as Netscape 8.0). This web site will be less attractive and run less well when viewed in any version of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (because IE is not compliant with many behavior and style standards). Other browsers, such as Opera, might or might not work. The Firefox browser is free. By default, Firefox enables the use of JavaScript. If necessary, JavaScript can be easily enabled or disabled in Firefox.

If the page displays seem too large (or too small) for your screen, use your browser’s font-size adjustment to set or select a smaller (or larger) font size. If connecting to this site (or following a source link) seems unusually slow, or your browser returns an error message, read about connections and errors, below.


Organizational Overview.—Each page of source links has collections of links pointing to law sources (cases, statutes, etc.), followed by commentary on the law (law reviews, other commentary, books), and then practice aids (e.g., court information, official forms, other resources).

Source-link pages are organized with links to law sources listed in this order (but not all of these sources are listed on all pages):
  • Courts of review (i.e., reports of cases decided): supreme court, court of appeals, etc.
  • U.S. district courts, for the United States
  • Other courts for which decisions are available on the internet
  • Constitution or other organic law
  • Bills from the current session and preceding sessions of the legislature, as available
  • Session laws
  • Codified laws (codes), sometimes including uniform laws and model acts as well as interstate compacts
  • Rules of practice and procedure
  • Administrative law sources (regulations; orders, decisions, and opinions)
  • Local law sources (municipal codes; ordinances)

  • It is a good idea to try various links, to become familiar with navigating in the ALSO! pages (as well as the source databases).
  • This link: Welcome to ALSO! at the top of a page points back to these instructions, or at the bottom of a page points to the copyright notices and related statements at the bottom of this page.
  • A source-name link such as Constitution or the button next to a source name points to a document containing that source, if it is directly viewable. When two or more versions that are directly viewable are available on the internet, the source-name link points to the best available one, and alternative available source documents are linked in an appended list (see the next note).
  • Some sources (e.g., the U.S. Constitution) are maintained in numerous internet databases, in files of various formats. If two or more versions of a source are available on the internet, or if no available version is directly viewable, then links may be given in an appended list headed “Additional Resources.”
  • The button points to a search interface for the source document to which the button is appended.
  • A link in French (usually italicized) or the button or points to a French-language document. Usually it is found only on pages for Canada.
  • A link in Spanish (usually italicized) points to a Spanish-language document.
  • A comment, in a smaller typeface, may be added after a link when that would be helpful. An alternative link to a source document is normally followed by a comment showing the name of the entity, organization, company, firm, or individual maintaining the database that includes the source document. The presumed location (state or province) of the database server, if not implied by that name, is given parenthetically.

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    Site Search Function.—The search form at the top right corner of a page invokes the Google free site-search function. Search results are displayed in a separate window (or a separate tab in the Firefox browser). Search results might include ads generated by the Google server. Note that LawSource, Inc., has no connection with the advertisers. Also note the following caveats about using the Google search function.
  • Google search results are not comprehensive. (This is a flaw in the Google search function, which affects all Google search results.) For example, if the keywords for a search appear three times on a page, the search results will not include all three instances but instead will show only one instance, and that one might not be what you wanted to find. Looking at the Google search results, you could not determine whether that page actually contained what you wanted to find. You will have to navigate to the indicated page on this site and then browser-search (but see the next caveat) or scroll to find what you want, bearing in mind that it might not be there after all.
  • The pages on this site contain drop-down lists. The Google search function can return results from drop-down lists; however, drop-down lists cannot be searched using a browser’s search function. Therefore, if you navigate from Google search results to a page on this site, your browser-search function could fail to find the same keywords that were used in the Google search. You will have to scroll down the page to look for the desired information. If your browser-search function finds the right keywords, but they are not in the expected context, then consider the preceding caveat. In addition, bear in mind that the Google algorithms will treat plain-text words as more significant than the same words in a drop-down list—hence, the plain-text occurrence will be highlighted in search results—even if the occurrence in the drop-down list precedes the plain-text occurrence on the page. (This is another flaw in the Google search function.)

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    About PACER.—PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) is an electronic public access service that allows registered users to obtain case and docket information from federal courts. Registration is free. There is a small charge ($0.08) for each accessed “page” (determined by a formula), including search-results pages. However, a user will not be billed unless and until charges aggregate to $10 in one calendar year — allowing free access to 124 pages a year. Moreover, access to court opinions and orders is free in any event (even if a user would be subject to being billed for search-results pages and other pages). Thus, a casual user who merely wants access to court opinions and can search for opinions carefully should be able to use the service without having to pay any charges.

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    About the Internet Archive.—A resource linked on this site might be provided at the Internet Archive when the original version is no longer available. The link points to the most-recent version available at the Internet Archive, which has a database containing copies of billions of web pages that have been posted since 1996. If a useful resource can no longer be linked to the original provider’s web site, then a link to the Internet Archive version, if available, is given instead.

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    About .PDF and .EVY Files.—Some providers offer files in the Acrobat “portable document format” (.PDF files) developed by Adobe Systems or the Envoy format (.EVY files) developed by WordPerfect and Novell. To view or print the files, you must first obtain and install the appropriate viewing software, which you can download and use at no charge.
    For .PDF files, which are sometimes identified with Get the Adobe Acrobat® Reader on this site, you must get the Acrobat viewer, free from Adobe Systems.
    For .EVY files, you can get the Envoy viewer, or if your browser is Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer, you should get the Envoy plug-in for Navigator or Internet Explorer. Both the viewer and the plug-in are freely downloadable; however, it may be difficult to locate a download site. Try searching for “free envoy viewer” with an internet search engine such as Google.com. (Some WordPerfect application suites from Corel come with the Envoy viewer included.)

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    About Folio Databases.—On some of the ALSO! pages are links pointing to sources (principally, codified state and local laws) in a database, known commercially as a Folio Infobase, that was created with proprietary software from the defunct Folio Corporation—now part of a company called NextPage. (In every case, the database was created by the provider of the source material, such as the state legislature, and not by LawSource, Inc.) Such a database is not suitable for use on the internet, for two reasons.
  • First, external linking from other web sites (such as this site) to the hierarchical list of headings (such as code titles, chapters, and section headings) in a Folio Infobase cannot be reliably supported. A link must point either to the highest level of headings (which is not very useful) or directly to a document, such as the text of a code section.
  • This leads to the second problem, namely that the address of a particular document in a Folio Infobase is the database record number and is dynamic, that is, it could be (usually would be) changed after a revision of the database contents.
  • Although a Folio Infobase is not well designed for browsing, it has an excellent search function that accepts keywords in Boolean search strings using AND, NOT, OR, and parentheses. (All words in the database, including so-called noise words such as “a” and “the,” are meaningful in a search string.)

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    E-Mail Spoofing.—LawSource, Inc., is aware that its e-mail address has been used, and probably will continue to be used, by so-called spoofers for sending bogus messages that appear to come from a sender at LawSource, Inc. (“@lawsource.com”). This pernicious practice can become annoying to recipients of such messages and is potentially harmful to the reputation of LawSource, Inc.; however, apparently there is no technologic way to prevent such activity because it is the result of an inherent flaw in the common method of sending e-mail. (For information, search for “e-mail spoofing” on Google.) Legitimate e-mail messages from LawSource, Inc., will always show the name of an individual as the sender and usually will carry a signature block showing the corporation’s address in Oakland, California.

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    Connections and Errors.—If you ever encounter an unusually long connect time for this site <www.lawsource.com>, please send a message, stating the date, time, and your browser name and download speed, to Administrator@LawSource.com.
    Connections may sometimes be slow to the sites where source documents are maintained. This usually is caused by heavy traffic. If you notice that a particular site consistently has an unusually long connect time, please tell us about it.
    A word about errors — they are inevitable. The internet being what it is, sometimes a link may not work (because the site is down for servicing, or the URL has been changed, or the provider has dismantled the site, or telephone lines are not functioning, and so forth). All URLs in the ALSO! pages are routinely checked once a month, but users are encouraged to report nonfunctioning URLs (and other problems) to Administrator@LawSource.com. Revisions are effected on or about the 15th of each month.
    NOTE: If you receive a “not found” error message by following a link on this web site, please tell the administrator, who will endeavor to fix the link. While all links on this web site are checked at least once a month by an automatic link-checking program, that program (which is very good) cannot report that a link is “broken” if in fact the link remains valid but the page content has been changed. Only a person viewing the page can know that. We note, with regret, a growing trend to create URLs without regard to the content of the indicated page—for example, look at this URL: http://www.denaliborough.govoffice.com/index.asp? Type=B_BASIC&SEC={848B925E-4DB0-4BA8-B32F-F5B021C55353}. (Whoever is driving this trend might be technically proficient in database management but, unfortunately, has no common sense.) A link like that could be tested as valid even after it no longer points to the expected content. Please tell our administrator if you encounter a “not found” error because of this problem.
    NOTE: If your browser returns a “no DNS entry” error message when you click on a link, the problem usually is traceable to your service provider’s DNS name server. Please do not report the “no DNS entry” error unless a link has produced the same error message on several different occasions.
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    Privacy Policy.—When a user visits the American Law Sources On-line (ALSO!) web site, the user’s browser application may be identified (as being either Microsoft’s Internet Explorer or some other type), for the purpose of selecting a stylesheet to control the way pages are displayed. LawSource, Inc., does not collect any other information, including personally identifiable information, about a user and does not write any data to a user’s hard drive by the “cookies” technology or otherwise.

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    Copyright.—See the copyright notice at the bottom of this page. Some of the ALSO! pages contain images of the national flags of the United States, Canada, and Mexico, as well as various subnational flags, which are copyrighted by the contributors of those images to the Flags of the World web site and the World Flag Database web site and are used here with permission. See the Flags of the World copyright notice and the World Flag Database copyright notice. Copying of those images from the ALSO! pages is prohibited.

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    Statement of Purpose.—The ALSO! pages are maintained by LawSource, Inc., as a public service, at no charge to users. Permission is granted to make links to the ALSO! pages from other WWW pages maintained for public nonprofit purposes. Linking from WWW pages maintained for commercial purposes is prohibited.

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    Disclaimer of Liability.—LawSource, Inc., did not create any source document, and is not responsible for errors and omissions in any source document, to which any link points in the ALSO! pages. LawSource, Inc., makes no warranty respecting the accuracy or currency of any information in the ALSO! pages or any source document. In a case in which any legal right or liability is at issue, a relevant source document obtained on the internet through use of the ALSO! pages should be checked against, and reliance should be placed solely on, an officially published version of the source. Use of the ALSO! pages is conditioned on the user’s understanding and accepting that LawSource, Inc., shall not be liable, on any theory whatsoever, for any damages attributable to that use.

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    About LawSource, Inc., and This Web Site.—LawSource, Inc., the operator of this web site, is a California corporation. It is not related or otherwise connected to, nor affiliated with, any other domestic or foreign corporation or any other business entity. The domain name lawsource.com and this web site <www.lawsource.com> are not associated with any other such or similar domain name (except lawsource.org) or any other so-named or similarly named web site.


    The title “American Law Sources On-line” and the stylized word “ALSO! ” and the phrase
    “The essence of legal research in two words . . . see ALSO! ” are service marks of LawSource, Inc.

     
     
     
     
     
     

     


    “The essence of legal research in two words . . . see ALSO!

    Copyright © 1995–2016 by LawSource, Inc. All rights reserved. Copying and use are restricted. See the copyright notice, statement of purpose, and DISCLAIMER on the Welcome to ALSO!  page. Citation formats generally follow The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (17th ed., Harvard L. Rev. Ass'n 2000). For a practical discussion based on the current edition of that guide, see Martin, Introduction to Basic Legal Citation (2013). See also a Wikipedia article.
    Revised 15 October 2013
    Send comments to Administrator@LawSource.com.

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